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Five soldiers martyred in explosion

MUZAFFARABAD: Five army soldiers were martyred and one was injured in an `explosive blast` in the proximity of the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday, the military`s media af fairs wing said.

The incident occurred in Chamb sector of Barnala, one of the three tehsils of Bimbher district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, added the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR)in a press release.

`Five Pakistan Army soldiers embraced shahadat while one got injured in explosive blast in Chamb sec-tor of Barnala, few meters from the LoC,` the ISPR said, adding that the nature of the blast was being ascertained.

However, military sources told Dawn that the casualties had occurred in five to six improvised explosive device blasts around 500-600 metres within the LoC when the soldiers were on a routine patrol in the afternoon.

TheISPRidentifiedthemartyredsoldiersas44-yearold Subedar Mohammad Sadiq, a resident of Jura Bandi village of Neelum district (AJK) with 23 years of service; 26-year-old Sepoy Mohammad Tayyab, a resident of Surakhi village of Khushab district (Punjab) with five years of service; 36-year-old Naik Sher Zaman, a resident of Shamashaki village of Karak district (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) with 13 years of service; 20-year-old Sepoy Zohaib, a resident of Nandi Nar Ghamir Manhdala village of Poonch district (AJK) with seven months of service; and 22-year-old Sepoy Ghulam Qasim of Sahiwal village in Sargodha district (Punjab). Four of them were married.

`The incident is evident of state-sponsored terrorism by India violating bilateral ceasefire agreement and international rules,` the ISPR said, referring to the November 2003 truce between the two armies.

Since September 2016 when an Indian army base was attacked allegedly by militants in tehsil Uri of held Kashmir, the agreement has been witnessing frequent violations from across the divide. Tensions further mounted in February this year after a suicide attack on an Indian army convoy in Pulwama district of held Kashmir.

According to AJK of ficials, at least 19 civilians have lost their lives along the LoC so far this year, mostly af ter the Pulwamaincident, in ruthless ceaseñre violations by the Indian army, while another 91 have suffered injuries. The latest civilian casualties were reported on July 1 when two persons were injured in Haveli district. Apart from the civilian losses, 11 soldiers have also been martyred in the line of duty along the LoC this year, including Wednesday`s martyrs.

Meanwhile, AJK President Sardar Masood Khan and Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider strongly condemned the explosive blast in Chamb sector, besides offering condolences to the bereaved f amilies.

Paying rich tributes to the Pakistan Army soldiers and officers for offering matchless sacriñces for defending the country`s frontiers, Mr Khan said it had once again been established that India was the sole enemy of peace and stability in the region. `India is not willing to resolve outstandingissues, including the lingering Kashmir dispute, through peaceful means,` he added.

Premier Haider maintained that the tragic incident in Bhimber had once again proved that Pakistan and Kashmir were like two peas in a pod, as two of the five martyred soldiers belonged to AJK, two to Punjab and one to KP.

`Whatever India may do, it cannot detach us from each other,` he said.

Both leaders also made it clear to India that such dastardly acts could not deter Pakistan from supporting the just stand of the Kashmiris and the Kashmiris f rom carrying on their legitimate struggle to overthrow Indian occupation of their motherland till its success.

They called upon the international community to take stock of the situation and play its due role in addressing the root cause of tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.